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  • Writer's pictureAhmed Dents

Byron Allen vs. Comcast and The Trump Administration's Assault On The Civil Rights Act Of 1866

Byron Allen, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer Entertainment Studios

As most of the country is glued to the drama surrounding the impeachment inquiry process surrounding President Trump, there is a much more important issue, in my opinion, coming before the Supreme Court in just 10 days (November 13, 2019). Byron Allen, who is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Entertainment Studios Networks brought forth a lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court against Comcast and Charter, accusing the cable companies of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866, a post-Civil War law that forbids racial discrimination in business contracts. Also mentioned in the lawsuit are National Action Network Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton, National Urban League CEO Marc Morial and NAACP President Ben Jealous ( since resigned) who all reached an understanding with Comcast and Charter through a MOP (Memorandum Of Understanding) or "AAMOU" Shortly after Comcast announced its intention to acquire 51% of NBC Universal. According to Comcast, the agreement among other things commits to the following:

"In the area of programming, we have committed to carrying ten new independent channels, four of which will be African American owned or managed. We will also be expanding the distribution of two existing African American channels. Creative executives will benefit from training and mentoring programs created by the AAMOU. In recognition of the lack of early-stage capital available for minority media and tech entrepreneurs, we are establishing a $20 million investment fund."

Byron Allen's litigation is fueled by the refusal of Comcast to carry channels operated by Entertainment Studios Networks, owned by Allen, who is black. The 9th Circuit had sided with Allen and Entertainment Studios twice and now Comcast has appealed to the Supreme Court. This is where it gets even dicier. While the court will not hear the actual issue concerning Entertainment Studios, at the direction of the Trump Administration, the Department of Justice has decided to step in and look at the validity of a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. This is the first civil rights legislation of any type in the United States and now Comcast has teamed up with the Trump Administration to try and dismantle a key provision in the legislation. This case will affect ALL Americans in some way and needs to be paid attention to.

In the video below, Byron Allen speaks in detail to the Grio's Natasha Alford about the case and its background. Below I have also included background on what exactly the Civil Rights Act of 1866 is as well as an interesting video looking at Al Sharpton's relationship with Comcast which sheds a little more light on the subject. I make sure to keep you updated as this issue plays out more in the following weeks.

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